Ransom Bettis Award presented to historian Monday in Pocahontas

POCAHONTAS, Ark. – Following a presentation on some of the most fascinating elements of local history, a historian was honored Monday night in Pocahontas.

On August 14, 2017 Dr. Michael B. Dougan received the “Ransom Bettis Award” from Five Rivers Historic Preservation Inc. in Pocahontas.

Dr. Dougan is a Distinguished Professor of History Emeritus, Arkansas State University, and holds a Ph.D. in history from Emory University. He authored Confederate Arkansas; The People and Policies of a Frontier State inn Wartime (1976), Arkansas Odyssey; The Saga of Arkansas from Prehistoric Times to Present (1994), and Community Diaries; Arkansas Newspapering, 1819-2002 (2003). His legal researches include articles on bridge and ferry law, medical malpractice, the married women’s property laws, and judicial biographies for The Arkansas Lawyer. He is a contributor to The Oxford Companion to the United States Supreme Court and The Yale Biographical Dictionary of American Law. Dougan is considered one Arkansas’s foremost experts on the state’s history, and the American Civil War and Reconstruction.

Dougan received the award Monday evening after speaking on the “Swamp Fox” Brigadier General M. “Jeff” Thompson of the Missouri State Guard (Confederate Ally), who was captured by Union forces on August 24, 1863 at the St. Charles Hotel in Pocahontas. The award was named in honor of one of Pocahontas’s earliest settlers, Ransom Bettis. Bettis moved from Wayne County Missouri in 1827 and established a ferry and trading post on Black River near present day Overlook Park in Pocahontas. The settlement was originally called Bettis Bluff, but renamed Pocahontas years later. Ransom’s daughter, Cinderella, married Thomas Drew who was elected Arkansas’s third governor in 1844. In 1835 when Randolph County was formed, both Bettis Bluff and Columbia townships competed for the seat. Drew and Bettis hosted a free barbeque and distributed “spirits” during the election, which may have resulted in Bettis Bluff (Pocahontas) winning the seat. Dr. Dougan received the award for his continued devotion to research and promotion of history in Randolph County. Dougan is the first recipient of the “Ransom Bettis” Award.

The program was part of the Randolph County Heritage Museum’s summer lecture series that began on Monday July 10th and will run consecutively each Monday beginning at 6:00 p.m. through August 28th. The lectures pertain to the local history of Randolph County and Pocahontas. Randolph County Heritage Museum is located at 106 E. Everett St. in Pocahontas.

The lectures are free of charge and open to the public.

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